23 February, 2007

Snow Patrol

Snow Patrol. I first discovered them in 2005 after hearing the single-tinglingly beautiful Run on the end of the Doctor Who Confidential for The Parting of the Ways. I couldn't get the song out of my head so I found out the artist, bought the album (Final Straw), played it incessantly on my iPod for a few weeks. Loved it to bits. Bought Eyes Open, the new album, as soon as it was released. Loved it equally. Adored the track Chasing Cars long before Gray's Anatomy (a show I've never watched) propelled Snow Patrol into a whole new level of public awareness and appreciation. Right, that just about brings us up to date on my love affair with Snow Patrol's music.

Last night Rochelle and I - along with a few thousand others - saw Snow Patrol perform live at the Trusts Stadium in West Auckland. We've got a couple of their concerts on DVD so I had some idea what to expect, but I was blown away by the sheer energy of the performance and the infectious charisma of lead singer and all round nice guy Gary Lightbody. On How To Be Dead Gary stopped singing abruptly and the audience carried on without him. But this wasn't one of those moments when the crowd is expected to sing along - when the song ended, Gary admitted sheepishly that he was enjoying himself so much that his mind had suddently blanked on the words. And he really looked like he was having fun, bantering along with the audience, grinning uncontrollably whilst singing and bounding all over the stage.

There were a few sing-alongs - notably the final refrain of Run:

Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I'll be right beside you dear

...which (as usual for a Snow Patrol gig) the crowd sang unaccompanied.

We were reasonably close to the stage - there were perhaps 10-12 rows standing in front of us - including a delightfully enthusiastic guy standing in front of me, who was a mine of information about the band. It was possible to work out from the reactions of those around me who favoured Final Straw, who favoured Eyes Open and those like myself and the guy in front of me who knew and loved both equally. Both albums were well represented in the set, so no-one would have gone away disappointed.

My one gripe about the U2 concert of a few months ago was what a bad choice Kanye West was as the opening act as his musical style was a poor match for the main act. No such problem this time around though as both New Zealand support acts were well suited to Snow Patrol's alternative rock styling. The two support acts were mysteriously listed on the pre-publicity as 'Support Act 1 & 2', and until they came on we had no idea who would be playing. The first act was NZ band Tourist and the second - to raptuous applause and utter disbelief from the crowd was another NZ act, Evermore, who have recently found deserved intertional recognition. Evermore's set in particular was so extraordinary that they threatened to eclipse the main act. I've been to concerts were the support act was received at lot of 'scarcastic' applause at the end of their set simply because the audience is relieved that they're finished and the long-awaited main act will be on soon, but the thunderous cheering from the crowd at Evermore's departure was genuine and heartfelt.

A brilliant night out. My ears are still ringing.

07 February, 2007

TSV 43

TSV 43 was the second of four issues produced in 1995, coming out in March of that year, and has just been republished online.

The lead feature was a transcript of a roundtable discussion organised by David Bishop, with Paul Cornell, Andy Lane and Steven Moffat. Oddly enough, although the average TSV reader would have instantly recognised Cornell and Lane's names as regular and popular New & Missing Adventures authors, they would probably not have been familiar with Moffat, whose biggest claim to fame at the time was creating and writing Press Gang, a UK TV series which has never screened in New Zealand, to the best of my knowledge. Nowadays, Moffat is one of the leading lights of the new series, having written the episodes The Empty Child, The Doctor Dances and The Girl in the Fireplace - all of which in my view will long be remembered as among the very best episodes the new series of Doctor Who has produced. The Four Writers, One Discussion interview is very candid and really rather funny in places.

The Seeds of Doom - An Appreciation was written by a UK reader, Guy Blythman, who contributed several pieces to TSV. This article garnered some controversy in the form of a long reply refuting some of Blythman's views in the following issue from Phillip J Gray and a subsequent response from Blythman in TSV 45. The article itself saw the beginning of TSV's long-standing policy of letting the latest video releases determine some of the issue's content (The Seeds of Doom was new out on VHS in New Zealand at the time).

The Enigma Magnet
, written by Peter Adamson and drawn by Paul Potiki, marks the beginning of a run of 13 comic strip stories over the next 17 issues. Many of these strips were either written or drawn (sometimes both!) by the talented Peter Adamson.

Peter also contributed the front cover illustration of a Krynoid, which was indentended to be printed in green. The printers withdrew the spot-colour service about the time that the issue was due to be printed, which was a shame. I've recreated the cover in Photoshop to show how it was intended to appear.

The back cover was drawn by Alistair Hughes, marking his return to TSV after a absence of several years whilst he was living in Scotland. I adore this piece of artwork and immediately started encouarging him to draw more for TSV. From the following issue he would become the 'resident' front cover artist, providing the covers for all but two issues from TSV 44 through to TSV 69.

My own major contribution to this issue was an article about the making of the 30 Years in the TARDIS documentary and its subsequent extended video release. I heard secondhand from one of the UK readers a while later that a copy of my article had found its way into Kevin Davies' hands and he apparently was very impressed with what I'd written. Coming from the documentary's producer/director that was high praise, and that really made my day, as you can imagine! But the story doesn't end there - a couple of years ago, I got an email from Jeremy Bentham, publisher of the highly-respected InVision magazine. Jeremy had also seen my article and wanted my permission to reprint it in the final issue of InVision. I of course said yes. There's few greater compliments in my view than having your work sought out like this.

Read TSV 43 here.

05 February, 2007

The Painted Bride

Stephen Gallagher's newest novel The Painted Bride has recently been published, and thanks to Amazon I have now added it to my bookshelves, ensuring that my collection of Gallagher novels is once again complete (for more on this see my Nightmare with Angel post).

As with all of Gallagher's writing, The Painted Bride is a compelling read. He's one of very few authors whose books I would describe as ‘unputdownable’. I started reading the book on the way home from work (unusually I happened to be catching the bus on the day it arrived in the mail), and I finished it at home later that evening. I never intended to get through it that quickly - it simply would not let me go.

The Painted Bride is not just a great read; it's also a beautifully presented book. It's a hardcover from Subterranean Press, limited to just 750 copies, all individually hand-numbered and signed by Gallagher, bound with textured cloth endpapers and wrapped in a suitably moody painted dustjacket by Edward Miller.

What's particularly significant for me about this book is that I've been waiting for it for nearly a decade. I used to be the customer orders manager for the Whitcoulls bookstore chain some years ago and I had access to a very useful electronic database called Bookfind which had rather thorough data on all published and upcoming books. Naturally I would regularly check up on forthcoming titles by my favourite authors. The Painted Bride would keep coming up under a search of Stephen Gallagher's works, with an ever further delayed release date.

To finally own a copy of this book after years of thwarted anticipation is the very definition of satisfaction for this fan of Gallagher's writing.